The “Unlikely Crypto Creative” series of interviews and stories are centered around creative professionals who have made their way into the world of blockchain and have begun to apply their practices to the new domain.
The Creative Crypto (TCC): Welcome HODLCRYPTO!! You probably need little introduction for people in the creative crypto world, but for someone new to your work, tell us a bit about yourself and where your creative impulse stems from.
Luis Poletti: The first thing I remember doing that impressed my parents was drawing, and that was my main thing until my teenage years. Growing up in Miami, I was influenced by a culture of people who were focused on material wealth and social status in general. This had a lot to do with my decision to go to business school and study finance. Like a lot of other people, I bought the idea that being an artist as a profession was not a viable way to make a good living. I didn’t even consider it. As a consequence my creative pursuits fell by the wayside.
After graduate school, I passed the CFA exam, which people only do when they’re serious about careers in investment banking. I had opportunities at major banks like Bank of America and BB&T but I ended up not taking any of them – something had changed in me.
During the last year of my studies, by happenstance, I opened my mind to unfavorable perspectives about the banking industry and decided that this wasn’t the direction I wanted to take in life. I decided to apply my analytical skills to the consumer goods industry where I built data models for business analysis and had a chance to learn a lot about real-world manufacturing businesses. Although I willingly subjected myself to “cubicle slavery” (as I affectionately call it), it didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to get out of there and do something more aligned with my interests and creative expression. I ditched my career about 3 years in, moved from Florida to Austin, TX and started working on my last art project.
My year in Austin was an important and pivotal time in my life. I worked in complete isolation for extended periods and regimented my time between studying art, making art, and reading into other subjects like philosophy, psychology, and of course propaganda. It was like being in a time chamber where I was forced to come to terms with both my social persona and my “shadow” and had a sort of psychological rebirth. I suppose I had been subconsciously preparing myself for a future as an artist.
After about a year, I ran out of time and decided to pick up another corporate job to make ends meet and plan my next move. That was pretty tough to be honest; both experiencing outright failure and returning to the life I had grown to despise. I took the risk and understood the consequences, so I accepted them and moved on to my next job in Houston, TX.
During my time there I got heavily involved in cryptocurrency and started working on a couple crypto-related projects, including HODLCRYPTO. I quit my job in February 2018 and planned my move to Guadalajara, Mexico to better position myself to weather the crypto bear market and work solely on the HODLCRYPTO project.
TCC: That’s an incredible journey. How did you get into the blockchain space?
I’ve been using Bitcoin since late 2015, and although I thought about investing in it a few times, I never really felt the impetus until I noticed the price increase in early 2017. It was then that I started investing, reading, watching videos, and participating in the community in general. I haven’t looked back since.
I’ll be the first to admit that financial gain is what first attracted me to the crypto space. I have no shame in saying that because it’s the truth. However, I’m also very ideologically aligned with the crypto movement considering it to be a three-fold revolution (technological, financial and political) with the potential to change the world for the better. The more I learned about cryptocurrency and some of the like-minded people in the space who value the principles of economic and personal freedom, the more passionate I became about evangelizing cryptocurrency and becoming a pro-cryptocurrency influencer.
At first, in addition to creating graphic art, I was more focused on blogging, which I still do, but quitting my job allowed me to devote more time and energy to creating art. If you take a look at my gallery, you will notice that it wasn’t until Mid-March, when I landed in Mexico, that I kicked the production of my art into full gear. In recent months I’ve experienced some painful losses at the hands of the crypto market, but I’m more dedicated to the community than ever. I have essentially devoted my life to the cause.
TCC: Your art takes on a very different flavor from the abstractions and representations other designers have brought to the industry.What are you trying to communicate with your creative work?
In a general sense, my art is designed to grab people’s attention and force them to confront the idea of using cryptocurrency. I want people to realize the importance of the crypto movement from a long-term perspective.
One of my main ideas is to use direct language and juxtapose phrases with the command to “HODL” or “HODL CRYPTO”. I find “HODL” to be versatile in the sense that it can be used to stir up curiosity from outsiders and simultaneously remind current cryptocurrency users to think long-term.
Sometimes I will deliberately repeat the same message in different pieces, because as the infamous George W. Bush said it best, “In my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
Although some designs are created with current cryptocurrency users (coiners) in mind, other pieces are targeting the general public (no-coiners).
Some fans of these artworks have noticed the symbolism embedded in some of the images, particularly the more emblematic designs. One of the main symbols used is the seven-pointed star (heptagram), used in conjunction with an iconic anonymous mask and Bitcoin logo, representing the anonymous creator(s) of bitcoin. The heptagram symbolizes creation and perfection and was also used as a traditional symbol to ward off evil.
The other main deterrent to cryptocurrency adoption is the volatility of the market and corresponding sensational, fear-inducing headlines from the mainstream news media.
Unfortunately this “FUD” (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) constitutes the bulk of what people generally hear about cryptocurrency. Pair the unfavorable headlines with some of the most respected and richest men in the United States publicly discrediting the value of Bitcoin, and the general public is going to feel pretty safe and cozy on the sidelines not getting involved.
Attacks against these traditionally anti-cryptocurrency characters have become a part of the arsenal of hodlcrypto propaganda. Some recent examples include Bill Gates claiming he would short Bitcoin if there was an easy way he could do it, Warren Buffett calling Bitcoin rat poison, claiming it has no productive value as an investment, and Jamie Dimon calling Bitcoin a “Fraud”, among other things.
Because these factors are constantly at play and causing public doubt, one of the key concepts I focus on communicating is that the cryptocurrency movement can’t be stopped. It will continue progressing whether some people like it or not; whether they understand it or not.
Most people are clueless about how sovereign entities have used the central banking system to control and deliberately devalue fiat currency. In effect, they are also devaluing the value of the work we (the working class) do in exchange for fiat currency.
Recently John McAfee put out a Declaration of Currency Independence that really drives home a lot of these ideas, and in a sense is the founding document of the cryptocurrency movement which urges people to escape the effects of controlled currencies by using cryptocurrency. I’m very much in support of this initiative.
The language used in this declaration is bold and incisive, and more importantly it cuts straight to the heart of the problems with the old financial system and why cryptocurrency solves these problems for the betterment of humanity. McAfee and I are on the same mission, just with different levels of influence and using different methods. I am communicating these same messages through my art.
TCC: How has crypto/blockchain affected the nature and production of your work?
Cryptocurrencies have created a new form of ownership for art – crypto-collectibles. I’m working with a crypto collectible platform called “Fan Bits”where fans can buy limited and unique pieces of my art on the Ethereum blockchain, which are impossible to duplicate. There is huge potential for this space, as demonstrated by the successes of other crypto collectibles platforms such as Rare Pepe and CryptoKitties.
So far I haven’t changed anything about how I create my art, or what I create, to cater specifically to the crypto collectibles channel. However I do feel that making specific collections of art with cohesive themes will work very well here in the future, so this is something I’m thinking about. I will almost certainly be doing propaganda collections as well as fiat currency collections.
TCC: How do you think this technology will affect creative industries and vice versa?
I’m really excited about the potential for blockchain technology to open up new avenues and online markets that will help entrepreneurial artists like myself thrive. The crypto collectibles space is a great example of this, but there is a lot more in the works behind the scenes, that frankly even I am probably mostly unaware of, that will bring a lot of value for artists.
On a more basic level, cryptocurrencies make peer-to-peer transactions possible like never before. So it makes it easier to support artists all around the world. One example of this are blockchain projects that are building solutions for tracking and protecting the authenticity of artwork. This will surely solve a lot of problems for both artists and art traders or collectors.
In regards to artists affecting the development of the technology itself, I believe our role is more in the realm of championing the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. I believe art will be instrumental and perhaps necessary to the adoption of cryptocurrency. People tend to be complacent and resistant such a change as implied by the cryptocurrency movement, so artists can work to strike interest, curiosity, and excitement in the minds of the “no-coiners”. All forms of art can and will be used to draw attention to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. As crypto artists, many of us feel a sense of camaraderie with this shared goal in mind.
TCC: What does the future hold in store for HODLCRYPTO?
For now I’m focused on producing my digital art and networking within the community on social networks. A couple initiatives I have to work on in the near future include collaborating with a couple other artists, working on some dedicated art collections with propaganda and physical currency themes, and also getting involved more in the crypto collectibles space.
This may present an opportunity for the deployment of pro-cryptocurrency propaganda in support of the campaign. I think HODLCRYPTO art has the attention of the McAfee’s so I will definitely be looking for more opportunities to both support the Declaration of Currency Independence and John McAfee’s pro-cryptocurrency presidential campaign.
TCC: Show us one last image that represents your excitement for the blockchain revolution.
In this piece, “Distribute and conquer” is a play on words, taking the popular catch phrase “divide and conquer” and altering it to show how decentralization can be used to rebalance the financial power structure. Throughout history, all kings and nation states understood the golden rule of power. If you control the money, you control the people. If control of the money system is decentralized, the people will be freed from the oppressive effects of fractional reserve banking systems. People don’t need to rely on banks anymore. Now you can be your own bank with Bitcoin.
This is what I’m most excited about – an increase in economic and personal freedom for all.